When Anxiety Disorders and Addiction Are Co-Occurring

Addiction does not happen in a vacuum. Often, it is accompanied by another mental health disorder, symptoms of both conditions presenting at the very same time. When both conditions are diagnosed at the same time, it is called a dual diagnosis.

There are various mental health disorders that can co-occur with addiction—and one of the most common is anxiety. These conditions can co-occur for different reasons. In some cases, the addiction develops as a kind of self-medication for the anxiety disorder. More often, though, the two conditions are both rooted in the same issues of the brain; remember that addiction, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders can all be mapped through brain imaging procedures, and the same abnormalities that lead to addiction may lead to anxiety.

The important thing to remember is that recovery is possible; co-occurring disorders are never hopeless, and in fact, treatment is available at 1st Step. It all begins when you make an appointment for evaluation, and receive your dual diagnosis.

What are Common Signs of Anxiety Disorders

One of the difficulties of dual diagnosis is that addiction can sometimes mask the symptoms of the other disorder, and anxiety disorders are no exception. With that said, there are some common warning signs of anxiety, which include:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Panic, fear, and a feeling of uneasiness
  • Heart palpitations

Other Common Signs of Anxiety

  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty being still or calm
  • What are Common Signs of Addiction?

Likewise, there are some common signs that indicate a struggle with addiction. Some of the ones to be aware of include:

  • You need more and more of a particular substance to get the same effects.
  • You feel sick, shaky, or depressed when the effects of the substance wear off.
  • You cannot stop yourself from using the substance, even if you want to and even if you know it is harming you.
  • You have lost interest in the things you used to be passionate about.
  • You hide your drug use, or the effects the drug use is having on your life.

[banner_image_section title=”Learn More About How to Get Help for Addiction”]1st Step Behavioral Health will work with you to address both substance abuse and mental health disorders and the impact they have on your recovery.[/banner_image_section]

What is the Connection between Anxiety Disorders and Addiction?

Again, the relationship between anxiety and addiction can be complicated. Sometimes, the former creates or worsens the latter. While we all experience anxiety in our lives, those who have a true anxiety disorder may find it overwhelming. They may feel hopeless against it—but drug use can provide a quick release. This drug use can lead very quickly to a struggle with addiction.

However, the relationship is not always so linear. Sometimes, one condition does not yield the other, but rather they stem from the same underlying abnormalities with the brain’s chemistry or physicality. Moreover, a common cause such as trauma can also exacerbate both anxiety and addiction disorders.

It is difficult to know the cause-and-effect relationship here without receiving a full diagnosis—which makes it imperative to seek clinical treatment as quickly as possible.

Understanding the Need for Treatment in a Dual Diagnosis Case

Seeking clinical treatment can provide, first and foremost, the diagnosis that you need. Because of the complex relationship between addiction and anxiety disorders, it can sometimes be hard to tell what the real issue is, especially when the addiction masks the symptoms of anxiety. Dual diagnosis provides clarity and understanding, which is the first step.

The recovery journey continues from there and the direction it takes is determined by that initial diagnosis. In dual diagnosis care, treatment is provided for both the addiction and the anxiety; for the symptoms as well as the underlying cause. Ultimately, without this level of dual diagnosis care, it is all too easy to address a single side of the problem, whereas care from a facility like 1st Step is far more complex and multi-faceted, helping you achieve lifelong recovery from anxiety and addiction alike.

Learn More About How to Get Help

No addiction struggle is ever hopeless, and no anxiety disorder is beyond treatment. The important thing is to seek the help you need—and that begins with dual diagnosis care. Seek the treatment you need by contacting our team at 1st Step today.